Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Monday, 6 June 2016
Blonde Poison, until June 11, 2016 ***1/2
THEATRE By Gail Louw, by Strange Duck Productions The Lawler,
Southbank Theatre, to June 11, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on June 2, 2016 Stars: ***1/2
Review also published online at Herald Sun Arts and in print later. KH
Belinda Giblin in Blonde Poison
Seated in our comfortable lounge chairs, we may
believe that we would make the moral choice if faced with the decision to
collaborate with brutal tyrants to save our families and ourselves from torture
or death, but would we?
Blonde Poison, by Gail Louw, is a monodrama based on
the life of Stella Kübler (née Goldschlag), a beautiful, blond and indulged German
Jewess who collaborated with the Gestapo in Berlin in World War II by informing
on Jews who subsequently went to death camps.
in a stylish, black frock, Belinda Giblin is elegant and handsome as the 71-year
old Kübler as she shifts the character from ecstatic, self-congratulatory
reminiscences about her younger self to anxious defensiveness and defiant
justification of her reprehensible, past actions.
Shuttered in an
old-fashioned living room (designer Derrick Cox) with only stuffed toys and photos
of her doting parents for company, Giblin’s Kübler intermittently garners
sympathy for the torture she suffered, her decade in prison, the loss of her
baby daughter who now hates her and her current loneliness.
However, any sympathy vaporises
when she gloats over her betrayal of Jews, revels in their desperate plight,
aligns herself with the Nazis and reveals her seething anti-semitism.
She fondly recalls her first husband, another unusually
blonde Jew, talks nostalgically of her Art School days and nude modelling, her
numerous lovers and her irresistible beauty.
She jubilantly lists the advantages she gained from
her Nazi collaboration that left her unwilling to abandon her role as snitch
even when she could no longer save her parents from the camps.
In Jennifer Hagan’s production, Giblin as Kübler
becomes more unstable and fearful as the clock ticks away the hours leading up
to her unwelcome interview with an old journalist, a Jew Kübler knew as a child
and who escaped Berlin before the war.
Giblin plays the character with a persistent, nervy
edginess that captures Kübler’s instability, but this keeps her voice in a
heightened upper register that limits the dynamic range of the performance.
Gail Louw’s script reveals Kübler’s intense,
treacherous life through memories and stories that she tells to her parents,
her husbands and to the soon-to-arrive journalist, or in flashes from the past
when she faces a Gestapo torturer, begs for her life or betrays a Jew in the
Louw’s text is dense and Hagan’s production craves
periods of silence and stillness to provide a dramatic balance to the wordiness.
This is a conventional monodrama that explores a
tragic historical period through the eyes of a woman who is guilty of
atrocities against her own people and this creates an intense piece of theatre.